Don’t hug porcupines.

 

It really hurts to hug a porcupine. This seems logical, but when we are talking about emotional relationships it’s not. We all know some porcupines. They are in our daily lives. Some through social media, the doctor’s office, church, and our own home. Interactions with porcupines can really hurt. Even our gentlest approach can be met with a sharp quill, in our attempt at reaching out to them. This is a difficult topic for me and it’s taken me some prayer and a good space of time to put it into words what I believe is spiritually sound. I myself have really struggled to know how to navigate this in a Godly manner. I’m constantly trying to ask the “What would Jesus do,” question. I think sometimes as a Christian, we feel we are supposed to take a beating and keep facing it voluntarily. We are to turn the other cheek, but wisdom say’s we shouldn’t prolong our interaction with this person. They may do some serious damage. As christians, we are not to injure in return, but should we encourage more close future interactions?

Luke 6: 27-38

27 But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you,

28 Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.

29 And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not to take thycoat also.

30 Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again.

31 And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.

32 For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them.

33 And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same.

34 And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.

35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.

36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.

37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:

38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

These are the words of Jesus. This is how we are to treat those who abuse us. We treat them the way we would want to be treated. Sometimes, I think this can mean drawing some healthy boundaries for the well being of our relationship. We even do this for our children. This same logic applies to all relationships. I do think it is love to tell someone we love, that they are behaving in a way that is spiritually damaging. I’m not necessarily talking about the occasional infraction. We all fall short. Whether it’s not feeling well, being sleep deprived or maximally stressed, we all make mistakes. I’m not talking about this particular scenario. I’m talking about those who are chronic offenders.  Those who regularly trample, steam roll, and flatten those around them.  If I treated someone this way, I would want them to tell me and give me opportunity to make restitution for my terrible mistreatment of them. I wouldn’t want to hurt someone else because I was blinded to how my actions were affecting them. So this next step is a must. It is how I would want someone to handle me, if I was the one chronically violating someone.

Mathew 18:15-17

15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.

16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.

17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

I will tell you that I love people. It’s just my nature. It takes a very long history of painful interaction for me to get to this next place, but it has happened more than once in my life.  I am talking about people who are not receptive to conversation. Those you’ve had the conversations with and they are unreceptive. I’m even talking about people who are dangerous. People who violate you or your family physically, emotionally, or spiritually. I’m talking about abuse. I obviously won’t give specifics, but I do have several people in my past that I’ve had to reach this plateau with. They are people who take and take and take until you are empty and sucked dry emotionally. They are the ones who are only kind when they want something but never receptive when someone else is in need.  They are abusive emotionally and spiritually and I’ve had to make a decision to protect myself.

James 5:19&20

Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him;

20 Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.

This is the ideal scenario, but unfortunately this is not always the outcome. I had a conversation once, that was very telling of the other person’s level of concern for my well being. I told them how deeply their actions and comments hurt.  They actually responded, “Well, I’ve always done it this way and I’m not going to change. So you can take it or leave it” I was given a boundary put in place by them. This is what they were choosing to treat me like and this was the way it was going to be. Because this wasn’t my first conversation with them about this situation,  I decided that I would chose to limit my involvement with them. I respect their boundaries as well, and because of that I realized that in order to not completely subject myself to constant turmoil, I chose to respect the choice they’d given me to take it or leave it.  I choose to create a greater distance between us. Not everyone can handle the freedom and space we initially give them in our lives. Sometimes safe boundaries need to be established.  I do still love this person and care about their soul, but I don’t have to volunteer to stand in the radius of their next gut punch.

Proverbs 25: 19-22

19 Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a broken tooth, and a foot out of joint.

If someone refuses to acknowledge your emotional, spiritual, or physical well being, you do eventually have to accept you aren’t going to be able to hug this porcupine. Jesus doesn’t mince words when it’s time to draw a boundary. In fact He is clear as day.

Matthew 10:11-14,

11 And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, enquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence.

12 And when ye come into an house, salute it.

13 And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you.

14 And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.

Jesus Himself, carefully stayed away from those who had a “form of godliness” but lived in ungodliness. I’m not talking about sitting with sinners who were willing to learn and repent, I’m talking about those who claimed righteousness but inside were ravening wolves.

Mathew 10:16

Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.

 In a working relationship where both parties take each other into account, they care what their actions do to one another. Obviously Jesus is perfect and we aren’t, but He grants us grace when He knows that we do care about Him. When we see that our sin has a hurtful effect on our relationship and we apologize and try to change for the betterment of our relationship, He still strives with us. He sees a spirit of repentance and He does grant so much more grace to us when He sees that within us. He doesn’t handle the unrepentant with these same kid gloves. He doesn’t force Himself on those who have no desire to have a relationship with Him. There are lines we can’t chronically trample, if we want a relationship with Jesus. He lays out those things countless times in the scriptures. We aren’t supposed to take His name or the name of His Father in vain. I mean…the scriptures are stories and history and prophesy…but holy cow…is it full of boundaries! Yes, “holy cow” was pun intended. He say’s do not to put other God’s before Him. He laid out a boundary with Aaron. Even the Holy Spirit is sometimes violated to a level that it has to leave. Jesus laid out those boundaries and left us with a choice. If you want a relationship with me, these are the boundaries. If not, we can leave the possibility of a relationship with Him. We have to do the same in our relationships. I have these boundaries, and if you want a relationship these will be respected. If you can’t respect those boundaries, you are free to leave.

So, what do we do when we’ve mistakenly given an untrustworthy person too much room and they’ve trampled our healthy boundaries? We have to first be willing to recognize the situation for what it actually is, and stop dreaming that it could be different if just… fill in the blank. This is my greatest pitfall. I’m constantly trying to assume the best and give another chance when I’m really just volunteering to be a constant victim. I have to face reality. If someone repeatedly violates me and does not take me into account, it’s not going to change. I’m being trampled, taken advantage of, abused…whatever you want to call it. Now I have to draw a hard boundary. After that, the decision to continue a relationship is really their own.

Part of the wisdom of a serpent and the harmlessness of a dove, is recognizing danger for what it is, and making a plan to navigate it. I am not saying we need to sever all ties in every case, I am just saying that sometimes a greater distance and learning to respond to them in a way that doesn’t put us continually in their cross hairs, is needed. Sometimes I try to avoid conflict and the need for an uncomfortable change in a relationship with someone, in hopes that it will “keep the peace.” With some people there will never be peace to keep. Their very existence thrives on the absence of peace, and a gap in their relationship with Jesus. If they had a healthy relationship with Him, they would not feel okay with habitually treating His children this way. Peace cannot live and thrive in a relationship with this type of person. 

I know this is a hard topic, and it’s why I concentrated on it. I have a hard time setting healthy boundaries with people. I want them to be happy and I want them to love me. It’s been a hard lesson to learn that there are those who a healthy relationship will never be possible with. My husband is constantly reminding me that there are truly dysfunctional and even evil people in this world. It is not wisdom to hold onto a relationship that bleeds you dry. 

1st Corinthians 7:15  But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.

When a relationship is so empty that the only part of the relationship that remains is the actual proximity to each other,  we are already separated. The truth is that the departing from each other has already taken place. Emotionally and spiritually we are no longer bonded. A relationship is based on some extent of unity and mutual respect. When that has been severed, we have to accept our position with this person is only possible at the extent of which they have distanced themselves from us. This is the position that Jesus respects even with us. He can only be as close as we desire and allow; and if we do not desire a healthy relationship with Him, He will depart. 

I hope each of you are doing well, and that your personal relationships are healthy and thriving. I know we all know a porcupine and probably love them in spite of the distance needed to protect ourselves. I pray we each have the wisdom and discernment of a serpent and a dove, to navigate these relationships. I love you each, huge hugs.

 

 

 


4 thoughts on “Don’t hug porcupines.

  1. Very well said, Amy. Boundaries is a very important subject. One that I didn’t learn about ’till later in life. I like how you backed it up with God’s Word………so important. I had to put down a boundary with a member of my family of origin. For me, that was very difficult but also very necessary. My life is now so much more peaceful. I must add that I also had to forgive that person like Jesus said, from the heart. The only way I could do that is with the help of the Holy Spirit. There comes a time when we just need to forgive but not go back for more of the same. We only land up getting hurt all over again. Thank you for writing about such an important principle because it can sure simplify one’s life…………..

    Liked by 1 person

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